Friday, October 31, 2008

November Film of the Month: Sink Or Swim (Su Friedrich, 1990)

Hey there, I'm Ed Howard, a film blogger and comics blogger, and I've been asked to provide November's Film of the Month selection. I thought long and hard about this decision, and there were many films I considered, including some I hadn't seen and therefore wanted to explore for the first time. But ultimately I went with a somewhat safer choice, opting for a film I know well and in fact consider one of my favorite avant-garde shorts. It's also a film that's perhaps less known outside of super-specialized film "ghettos" like LGBT cinema, or simply avant-garde cinema in general. There's an unfortunate tendency to take films that deal with gay issues or other niche thematic concerns and to treat them as though they're only of interest to a small subset of the population. Nothing could be further from the truth, especially in the case of the remarkable filmmaker who I'm urging everyone to check out this month.

The film is Sink Or Swim, a deeply personal and formally imaginative autobiographical essay made by Su Friedrich in 1990. It's a rumination on her childhood, and especially her relationship with her father. I won't say any more about it here, and I'll leave it to each of you to discover the film's unique formal structures for yourselves. I know other posters usually include reviews at this point, but I would strongly warn you not to read anything ahead of time. There's no possibility of "spoilers," per se, but it's a film that's best experienced with very little idea of what it's like ahead of time. That said, if you have seen the film or really can't resist piquing your curiosity further, Fred Camper has written a really great analysis/review of the film. There's also an interesting review by Michael Zryd at Senses of Cinema.

For those who wish to follow my lead and watch Sink Or Swim this month, the film is available, along with most of Friedrich's other films, on DVD from Outcast Films. This DVD also features two of Friedrich's earliest short films, Cool Hands, Warm Heart and Scar Tissue, so you can catch a glimpse of the filmmaker's (relatively modest) beginnings. While I'd like to see everyone buy the DVD directly from Outcast, thus supporting a small DVD company, the film is also readily available from (the cheapest price I see online), Amazon, Greencine, and Netflix.